How to Make Corn Tortillas without a Tortilla Press

Put this on the list of things I never thought I’d do.

Make my own tortillas? The idea was about as foreign to me as making my own shoes. After all, store bought tortillas aren’t that expensive and they taste tortilla-y enough for me. Why go to all the extra work?

Oh Courtney, you sweet naive little girl. You have no idea.

I had no idea how good real corn tortillas were. Or how simple. Or how cheap and easy to make.

My excuses finally ran out when I found a recipe for authentic corn tortillas in Bon Appetit magazine. It called for three ingredients. Two of them were water and salt. Tough to argue with a recipe like that.

So off to the store I went looking for a bag of masa flour to start me off on this new adventure. I found mine at Meijer in the Mexican food aisle. I paid about $4 for a giant 4 lb. bag of the Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour. I’ll be able to make approximately 120 tacos from this bag. Yes, you read that right– 120 tacos.

10% Mas product?! How can you pass this up?

So now you know where to look for masa flour, what brand to buy, and how darn cheap making your own tortillas really is. See how those excuses just slowly trickle away?

Now for the process. To make tortillas, you simply mix the masa flour with water and salt until a play-do like dough forms. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to it. If you need to, you can add more water to keep it together. If the dough gets too sticky and wet, you can add more masa. Easy.

Now here’s where I got to my last excuse. How am I supposed to make tortillas without a tortilla press? Won’t they just crumble??

Oh, I’m so glad you asked. I did a little researching and using several different strategies from around the web found a simple, fail proof way to make tortillas without a press.

Last excuse? Gone.

So let’s do this! Mix up some masa flour, salt, and water. It’s not an exact science. If the dough is too wet, add a little more masa. If it’s crumbly, add some water. You want it to be a play-dough like consistency.

See? It’s just like a giant ball of play dough! The kitchen is the adult’s play room. I’m telling you guys.

Now divide your dough up into 1 1/2 inch sized balls. Roll them a little bit in your hands until smooth. Cut out 2 6 inch circles of parchment paper. They don’t have to be perfect circles. Just circlyish. And grab yourself a heavy plate/pot/pan. I like to use a glass Pyrex pie plate so I can how big the tortilla is getting.

Place a dough ball on one of the parchment circles then place the other circle on top. Use your heavy circle shaped thingamajig to press the tortilla to about 6 inches diameter and 1/8 inch thick.

Now remove the top side of the parchment paper, but leave the bottom side intact, like so.

Throw the tortilla into a hot skillet (I preheat the skillet over medium high heat) with the exposed side down. Let it cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then carefully pull off the top piece of parchment paper. Cook for another 30 seconds and then flip. The tortilla should be starting to brown in a few parts. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

You can stack finished tortillas in a warmed towel to keep them hot. If you have a large skillet or electric griddle you could easily get 4 or 5 of these going at once. Just cut out a few extra parchment squares if you need them.

Then you can make some kick butt tacos…like these.

So is it worth it? I really, really believe it is. These tasted every bit as good as taco truck tacos (which is a huge compliment). Plus, with that giant bag of masa around, I know I can always have fresh, authentic tortillas in about 20 minutes and for a teeny, weeny fraction of the price of store bought. Give it a try! You’ll feel like super woman. Promise.

How to Make Corn Tortillas without a Tortilla Press
 
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups masa flour (corn tortilla mix)
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1½ cups water, or more if needed
Instructions
  1. Combine masa, salt, and water in a large bowl and stir together until a dough begins to form. You want the dough to resemble play dough consistency.
  2. Cut out 2 6 inch circles of parchment paper and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Grab a hunk of dough about 1½ inches round and roll it into a ball. Place dough ball on top of one of the parchment circles then place the second circle on top. Use a pie plate, or other heavy bottomed, round pot to press the dough ball into a 5-6 inch circle. Carefully remove the top piece of parchment paper. If the dough sticks, it is too wet--add an additional Tablespoon or two of masa. If it crumbles, it is too dry--add a Tablespoon or two of water.
  3. Leave the bottom sheet of parchment paper on. Place the tortilla, parchment side up, onto the hot skillet. Leave for about 30 seconds, remove top piece of parchment paper and continue to cook on the same side for an additional minute, or until brown spots begin to form. Flip and cook an additional 30 seconds on the other side.
  4. You can cook as many tortillas at a time as your skillet will hold. Just cut additional sheets of parchment as needed. I've stored the dough in the fridge for up to a week.
  5. Stack warm tortillas and wrap in a clean dish towel to keep warm. Reheat for a few seconds in the skillet if needed.

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